The football world cup has been interesting to casually observe. Other than playing socially, football has never enthralled me. Now with the world cup I think I finally understand why it attracts so many people as fans and spectators.
The skills of the premiere players are quite remarkable, but importantly games can go ‘any way’ and more so than most of the other major codes. This is also why England’s FA cup works- the underdog really can go all the way – and not infrequently they do.
What continues to attract me to sports however is the mental edge. Belief in ‘superiority’ has as much to do with a players/teams conquest as their skills. Golf is a classic illustration of this, and cricket is not far behind (strangely I have little patience for either as a player).
The Football World Cup demonstrates the mental set-up of underdog (nothing to lose) vs favourite (everything to lose), and in part this explains New Zealand’s ‘success’’ (well we didn’t lose).
So here is my punt for the future:
Any small country can produce top quality sports people and top quality teams and in any code. A country of 4 million can compete with a country of 400 million.
The professional sports platform has meant boundaries are no longer confined and a player base of only a few thousand in any country should be sufficient to get anyone off the ground and into the stratosphere in any code.
There is nothing to support that any one country has some pre-destined or hereditary right to having a distinct mental and physical edge over another. It is simply the application, discipline and belief that gets them across the line.
So sports competitions will become more global and more competitive for two reasons
1. commercial, and
2. the realisation of individuals that it matters not where you are brought up
What has this got to do with leadership?
• Hone your mental edge, don’t rely just on functional/tactical skills.
• The boundaries of leadership are changing. Don’t assume what’s defended you in the past will protect you in the future.
• Seize the opportunity to think global, if you or your products can thrive here you can thrive anywhere. Don’t limit yourself.